EU river basin plan warning

Failure to submit their plans for managing Europe's river basins as required by EU water legislation has resulted in the European Commission (EC) issuing a warning to 12 member states - including Ireland. The EC said failure to do so has put the achievement of the Water Framework Directive's objectives at risk.

Under the legislation, member states had to publish a management plan for each river basin district at the latest nine years after the legislation entered into force. Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain have not done so.

The river basin plans are the cornerstone of the WFD, and essential for achieving the EU’s objective of “good status” for European waters by 2015. They should have been adopted by December 22, 2009 at the latest.

With plans for a quarter of the EU’s territory still missing, some 31% of citizens have no certainty yet how their water resources will be managed, putting the achievement of the directive’s objectives at risk. Further delays will have a knock on effect for the implementation of the directive, on the establishment of measures and ultimately on improvement of the water environment.

The commission has, as a result, issued a first written warning to the member states involved, urging them to speed up procedures to adopt the plans. They have two months to reply.

River Basin Management Plans give a comprehensive overview of the main issues for each river basin district and should include the specific measures needed to achieve set environmental quality objectives. Where any exemptions are applied, a thorough justification must be provided.

The EC is studying the quality of the plans submitted, and will present a third report on the implementation of the WFD in 2012, assessing the plans and providing recommendations for improving their implementation. The report will feed into the 2012 Blueprint for Safeguarding European Waters.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie